Software Ibérica S.L. is now reaping the fruit of hard work developing a
Spanish-to-Basque Machine Translation system for the Basque Government.
On February 28th, the translation system was officially presented to the public in Bilbao, Basque Country.
The project is the result of Lucy Software having won a Public Tender for a Machine Translation system for Spanish into Basque, launched by the Basque Government in January 2008. Lucy Software was chosen from 5 candidates due to its extensive expertise in the MT field and the previous successful deployment of its MT system in other Public Administrations, such as the Generalitat de Catalunya or the Xunta de Galicia.
The project kickoff was late summer 2008, followed by a development phase that lasted some 2 years and involved over 10 people from four entrusted companies. Apart from the computational linguists, lexicographers and computer science engineers from Lucy Software Ibérica, further linguists and lexicographers specialized in the Basque language from local Basque companies - UZEI, Emergiatech and Gizerbitek - also participated in the project. The main development phase of the project was completed in 2010, followed by a deployment phase in 2011, thus integrating the machine translator into the Public Portal of the Basque Government.
Having to deal with the Basque language has been a real challenge both for Lucy’s MT system and the development team. As Juan Alberto Alonso, coordinator of the Lucy team, points out, Basque is a non-Indo-European language which is in fact linguistically unrelated to any other known human language. It has very peculiar morphosyntactic structures to be mapped with the corresponding ones in Spanish. The structure of the following sentence in Spanish and its Basque translation provides a rough idea of what this implies:
Spanish: Le he enseñado los libros que me compraste ayer
[To-him I-have showed the books that to-me you-bought yesterday]
Basque: Atzo erosi zenizkidan liburuak erakutsi dizkiot
[Yesterday (atzo) bought (erosi) youSUBJECT-theyDIRECT_OBJ
books (liburuak) showed (erakutsi) have-theyDIRECT_OBJ
English: I showed him the books you bought for me yesterday.
The system can be publically accessed at www.itzultzailea.euskadi.net.
Follow the links below to hear and read about the presentation and the reactions from the Iberian Peninsula publishing media:
Should you require a translation of the Spanish original, call up the article in question and copy the link from the URL window to Lucy’s uncustomized KWIK translator to receive a Catalan, Galician, French, English, or German gist translation.